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All good things come to an end ... Crossmaglen take note

By Declan Bogue

The best teams, the best athletes, all are held together by a common trait - they absolutely despise losing.

And when it happens, they look for scapegoats.

The famous Kerry writer, Con Houlihan, said once that his native county were expected to win the All-Ireland.

Therefore, they never were too excited or giddy when it came to pass, but by God when they lost there would be hell to pay.

Not only would scapegoats be searched for, but scapesheep and scapeasses.

So it is with little wonder that when you turn the pages of - yes, him again - Colm Cooper's autobiography out this week - you sense that he felt that, under his watch, Kerry never really lost games but gifted them to the opposition.

Such as his first season. They had a difficult time of it in Munster, losing to Cork in the final after a replay, but fancied themselves in the All-Ireland final against Armagh.

"The game changed with Oisin McConville's second half goal at the Hill end," he notes. "It shouldn't have, but it did. We were still four points up after 55 minutes, but the goal was a sucker-punch. It put wind in their sails I'm not sure they fully expected to get.

"…And the scenes at the end have, of course, gone down in history. Maybe I should have been happy for them but to this day all I feel about that game is anger. Nobody hands you an All-Ireland, they tell you. Well, that day we disproved the theory.

"Because that day we gave Sam to Armagh in a silver f****** platter."

And then there are the battles with Tyrone, beginning with the infamous 2003 All-Ireland semi-final.

"Paidi didn't see the sucker-punch coming , but the truth of it is that none of us did."

Sucker-punch. That phrase again.

No need to quote any more, but you will note that Cooper does not credit Tyrone or Armagh with these successes and puts it down to Kerry complacency.

Perhaps we see something similar with Crossmaglen Rangers right now. The most decorated side of the last few decades have failed to make an Armagh final for two consecutive seasons since the mid-90s. And it hurts and makes them mad, and leads to scenes such as those at the end of Saturday evening's defeat to Maghery.

When great teams go into decline, they can't sense it's coming. It just comes. We should bear that in mind when indulging in commentary around the current Dublin team right now.

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